The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was formally adopted this week in Marrakech, Morocco. This unprecedented agreement promotes the coordinated implementation of migratory policies in the world and reflects two different, and sometimes contradictory, views of migration: one that is focused on control, and another based on rights.
On the one hand, the Global Compact backs measures that seek to reduce and prevent migration, which is addressed as if it were a security problem. It legitimizes detention as an instrument of migratory policy, even while indicating it is a tool of last resort, and puts emphasis on deportation mechanisms.
On the other hand, it advances on commitments to expand regular migration channels and protect migrants in situations of vulnerability. It promotes the individual assessment of cases of migrants in irregular situations, with due process guarantees, and the development of procedures that facilitate regularization. In addition, it commits to ensuring access to basic services on the part of all migrants, regardless of their migratory status.
Of the United Nations’ 193 member states, 164 endorsed the Global Compact. Some countries, such as the United States, Hungary and Australia, had announced months earlier that they would not support the agreement because they felt it went against their sovereign national interests. More recently, Chile joined this group in rejection of the Compact, and the designated foreign minister of Brazil, who will serve under President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, vowed to exit the agreement. This last announcement represents a sharp blow since Brazil was a key actor in negotiating the Compact and it has a new migration law with a rights-based approach, which could be at risk now. The headway made by nationalist discourses that stigmatize migrants is causing alarm in different parts of the world.
CELS accompanied the process of consultations and negotiations on the Global Compact and produced in alliance with other organizations concrete recommendations for an agreement focused on human rights. We will continue working to ensure that the Compact’s implementation in countries is centered on the protection of migrants’ rights.